I Want To Love This Game So Much, But I Can't

"Hold me," This Is Not A Ball Game begs me with her adorable French accent, tears running down her cheeks. Whimsical music plays against a backdrop of cardboad circus silhouettes, the lions and strong men and acrobats bearing witness. I hold up my hands, each finger a tiny gaming app critic, waiting to slice her to ribbons. "I can't."

Thank you, random Edwards Scissorhands flashback, for helping me nail down my feelings for Absurd Interactive's This Is Not A Ball Game. It's a game I desperately want to enjoy, and I can feel it wants me to enjoy it, but I can't get past these damn critic fingers to where love lies waiting.

This is a beautiful fantasy that just happens to have a circus-style ball tossing. The game begins with a wonderful cutscene, a magical fairy with a delightful voice explaining that I am the only one who can save her, restoring magic to the world by participating in a series of carnival games.

Why, here's the opening now.

I don't have to watch, because the entire unskippable thing plays every single time I start the game. Every time. This Is Not A Ball Game never lets you skip a video. Every new game concept has an unskippable explainer video, to the point where I actively dread the introduction of new features.

That hurts, but it's not damning. No, what's damning is having a set number of plays before you have to wait for an arbitrary timer to refill. What's damning is, instead of giving the player a set number of balls for each level, you let them throw as much as they want until the level's three star crash to the ground, and when they run out, make them buy more. What's damning is the difficulty level rapidly ramping up to the point where buying special balls is almost required.

How can a game so gorgeous, so whimsical and fantastic and charming be so repulsive? Will I ever free myself of these critic fingers?

This Is Not A Ball Game

  • Genre: Ball Game
  • Developer: Absurd Interactive
  • Platform: iOS
  • Price: Free

Get This Is Not A Ball Game on iTunes